For years I have worked by word of mouth and personal introduction. However, it is becoming more difficult to find the authentic salt-of-the-earth people, who are now being overrun by a more sugar-coated society. The families who occupied this land for more than two hundred years are now interspersed with a new breed of Appalachian and land developers driving Hummers and Escalades, owning oddly shaped swimming pools and mansions built into the mountaintops after the coal is removed and the mountains reclaimed. To go into the woods nowadays can be dangerous and surprising. One has to be watchful not to stumble upon a booby-trapped marijuana field or abandoned meth houses, or be surprised by a bear or a coyote, or even the striking appearance of a wandering, imported elk herd. It is a more varied and diluted world now. Salt preserves wholesomeness and prevents decay, but the people from the earlier, harder-formed age who bear that special look are now in decline.
My photography of this culture – my culture – has developed over the years from encounters to interconnection and has grown into long-term, loving relationships. I love the mountain people because of (and sometimes in spite of) the influences of some of my own kin. These communities of people have contributed to my finding some understanding for my own family and for building faith and consideration for others. They have helped me to better grasp who I am and from where I came.
(Shelby Lee Adams | Salt & Truth, PRIVATE 55, pages 46-49)